“I think of a house as a complicated machine in which something new breaks down every day: a lamp, a faucet, a lock, an electric socket, the boiler, the refrigerator… But when we can forget about the responsibility of continuous maintenance, we feel happy. Then the other side of the coin, opposed to the responsibilities of ownership, is sheer gratitude.”
That was the thinking of Álvaro Siza, the great Portuguese architect who, at the age of 89, continues to inspire a younger generation. In their space, design duo Eugenia Rolando and Federico Patacchiola of Paros Architettura—a couple in life as well as at work—start from these very words to create subtly inventive places.
A prime example of their work is Casa Costantino, a small but elegant Rome apartment. The building, a 1960s structure in the Ostiense district, is a stone’s throw from the famous Garbatella area. The 700-square-foot apartment is all modern, and thanks to Paros Architettura, it’s been transformed from an old family home, full of memories, into a light-flooded environment with a contemporary feel.
“The goal was to respect the house’s very existence, while making it more suitable for new ways of living,” say the pair from Paros Architettura, who add that the guiding principle for the renovation work “was without a doubt the concept of conviviality.” That same conviviality becomes the star of the kitchen unit—the central element around which the whole 700-square-foot apartment revolves.
The large green unit is happily two-faced. From one side, as you enter, it looks like an elegant piece of furniture ready to welcome guests; once you turn the corner, a complete cooking area is revealed. The bold choice of color was by no means random. “It intentionally recalls the foliage of trees,” say the architects. “And in a rather unconscious way, it brings out the natural materials and nuances,” such as the oak cabinets and parquet flooring, and the travertine countertop.
The “bathing room,” to use the designers’ choice of words, is a similarly deliberate work of art. Here, shimmering sea-blue tiles, “which recall classic handmade ceramics,” frame the splendid parquet, which once again becomes the protagonist of a room that is rarely conventional. “The aim was in fact to break away from the idea of a standard bathroom, in order to get closer to what used to be called a bathing room,” they explain.
What catches the eye in this room—apart from the blue of the tiles—is the large made-to-measure cabinet under the sink, with oak drawers and travertine top, and the black faucets that complement the tiles. But overall, the undisputed protagonist of the project is light. Light becomes the key element—the fulcrum of the whole house.